Thursday 28 June 2018

Record Low Winds, Rising Electricity Bills

The past month saw record low levels of wind energy adding to the woes of an already financially struggling wind industry. The month of June was comparable to the winters of 2009 and 2010 which also saw very low winds, the difference being that back then the temperatures were very low. These long periods of near non existent wind not only undermine the Government's wind plans, but also seriously undermine the viability of wind storage.  This was Gaelectric's plan, to expand into storage, until they went into liquidation. Their remaining wind farm assets have not attracted a buyer over six months later.

Electricity Bills to Rise

With the recent news that electricity prices are set to rise because of rising wholesale prices, consumers may begin to ask questions as to why wind has not reduced the wholesale price as was promised by all the experts when the Government were preparing their wind energy plans. It is a sobering fact that Ireland's electricity market is still subject to the vagaries of worldwide fossil fuel prices despite having 3,000MW of wind farms, enough capacity to meet 85% of total electricity demand on a summers day or over half of demand on a winters day. 

Ten years after the banking crash, Ireland still has no independent organisation that can review Government policy independently, instead we have plenty of "think-tanks" that rubber stamp policy, including the same ones that supported the wild west lending policies during the boom. The ordinary consumers are the ones paying the cost.

Tuesday 5 June 2018

Demand Side Units Now Reach 540MW

by Owen Martin

A total of 544MW of demand side units (DSU) was contracted for in the recent All Island I-SEM capacity auction. Each DSU will qualify for capacity payments of € 41,800 per MW. So that's a total of €22 million that will be paid each year to encourage off grid generation, including "dirty" diesel generation, in my opinion, a consequence of the mad rush for wind energy.  Since wind cannot always be depended on to meet demand, the obvious solution is to reduce demand.

A Demand Side Unit (DSU) is a demand site that can be instructed by EirGrid to reduce electricity demand. Instructions to reduce electricity demand are called dispatch instructions. Where a DSU consists of more than one individual demand site it is called an aggregated DSU. A DSU uses a combination of on-site generation and/or plant shutdown to deliver a demand reduction in response to an instruction from EirGrid [Eirgrid].

However such industrial sites can offer demand reduction services through a combination of load reduction, running standby diesel generators, or running inactive Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plant [Rationale for DSU].  

Many data centres have installed diesel generators, so presumably they can also qualify as a Demand Side Unit, which will greatly reduce the load on the now wind dominated grid. In fact, we may soon see the entire industry of Ireland registering to become Demand Side Units which would greatly reduce electricity demand and thereby make it easier to meet our renewable targets. Although, in reality, it would be a fudge and would make a mockery of our "green" credentials as we would still be as dependent on fossil fuels as ever. 

It is ironic that the mad rush for clean wind involves moving away from very efficient gas generation to inefficient fast acting forms of generation such as diesel. In fact, the capacity auctions saw DSU's take precedence over the very recently built modern and efficient CCGT in Huntstown, Dublin. So we have one policy which seems to prefer higher emitting generation in direct conflict with the other policies that encourage lower emitting generation.  

It was no surprise then that recently it was announced that Ireland's carbon emissions were rising. This is because central planning is about box ticking and meeting targets rather than a sensible all round plan that can adapt and respond logically to feedback.